Cosmetic Procedures and the Brow Lift


Are you frustrated with sagging skin in your forehead region? Then the forehead lift and eyebrow lift, also called "the brow lift," may be just what you're seeking. This popular procedure is used to help reverse the aging process (think deep wrinkles and creases across your forehead caused by years of facial expressions and environmental effects). But don't be fooled. Younger people are also candidates if they have inherited traits, such as lowbrow or other problems.

What Is a Brow Lift?

A forehead lift can be performed using one of three common procedures: an endobrow lift performed through an endoscope, an open brow lift, or a temporal lift. The procedure cosmetically corrects sagging in the forehead skin, upper eyelids, and eyebrows.

Here's how:

Your surgeon will maneuver tissues and remove segments of muscles and skin that are responsible for wrinkles or deep frown. Sometimes, this procedure is performed in conjunction with a face-lift or reshaping of the nose.

Think about it. You want your facial features to have the same contoured appearance. If you only have the work done on your forehead, other areas will appear more aged. If you are interested in learning about other procedures, you can discuss the options with your surgeon.

There are two methods to lift your forehead and eyebrow areas:

  • the classic lift

  • endoscopic lift.
The classic lift involves one continuous incision, beginning at the level of your ears and going up around your hair line. Depending on where your hair line is, the surgeon will move the incision line to avoid a visible scar. For instance, if you are a man who is balding, the surgeon can make the incision mid-scalp, so the scar can be hidden in the remaining hair.

Here's how the endoscopic lift differs: Instead of making one continuous incision, your surgeon will make a few shorter incisions in the scalp. He or she will insert a scope (small camera on the end of a thin tube) into one of the incisions in order to view the tissues and muscles from a screen. At the same time, he or she will use another device inserted in another incision to make the necessary alterations.

In this procedure, small anchors are used to secure the offending tissue once it's altered appropriately. Those anchors are tiny, but mighty. They'll keep your tissue under control for years. Because the incisions are smaller, this procedure is less invasive. You will experience minimal scarring and shortened recovery time.

Does My Health Insurance Cover This Procedure?

A forehead lift is a cosmetic procedure and is not covered under health insurance plans unless you have severe visual field loss. It's important that you receive price quotes in writing from your surgeon's office and that you understand charges for any follow-up care.

What can I expect during a brow lift consultation?

You've selected the surgeon, now it's time for the consultation about your brow lift.

You should prepare by having your medical history handy (for instance, have you previously undergone facial surgeries to correct aging or wrinkling?), current medical conditions and any medications. This will all affect how your surgeon analyzes your case and determines how to approach your surgery. Also, you should know exactly what you want to correct about the current appearance of your forehead.

Your surgeon will evaluate your entire forehead region, including your upper eyelids, paying attention to the muscles. The surgeon may have you make a variety of facial expressions so he or she can evaluate exactly how to help you.

How do I prepare for brow lift surgery?

There might be some lifestyle adjustments you have to make before you can undergo a brow lift. For instance, do you smoke? Then you may have to quit, or at least curtail your habit for a few days. But this is up to your surgeon, and he or she will provide you with specific pre-operative instructions.

You may also have to avoid alcohol and certain medications. If you regularly take an aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drug, your surgeon will ask you to stop taking these for a certain period of time before the surgery. These drugs can cause increased bleeding and should be avoided.

Also, be advised: if your hair is long and will get in the way of the procedure, you may have to trim it. If your hair is shorter, you may seek to grow it out to cover any scars. You will be able to discuss all this with your surgeon and how you should prepare.


Plastic Surgery: Before and After Photos of Cosmetic Surgeries See Slideshow

What will I need at home after brow lift surgery

You should make sure your house is stocked with plenty of gauze and clean towels once you've arrived home after your brow lift. Also make sure to have the following on hand:

  • Plenty of ice

  • Container to use for ice or cold water

  • Plastic freezer bags to hold the ice OR you can also keep bags of frozen corn or peas on hand

  • Pillows (you'll have to keep your head elevated for a period of time)

  • Ointment for the incision area (which your surgeon can recommend or prescribe, if necessary)

What can I expect the day of surgery?

Typically, you can undergo a brow lift at your surgeon's office, in a hospital, or outpatient surgery facility. Your surgery should be completed within two hours and you will not normally need to stay overnight. However, you will need to bring someone along who can drive you home and, if you live alone, stay with you the first night or two.

Your surgeon will use local anesthesia. But, if it makes you more comfortable, you can request an anesthesia that will put you to sleep during the operation (general anesthesia). Once the operation has ended, your surgeon will close the incision areas with stitches or staples. Then he or she will cleanse the area to remove blood and cover the wound area with a soft, sterilized bandage that will surround your face.

It's very important to follow the instructions on how to care for the bandage and how frequently you should change it.

What should I expect after brow lift surgery?

Your recovery is going to vary depending upon which procedure you had: a classic or endoscopic brow lift.

In either case, you will have stitches or staples in the incisions which will need to be removed in about a week. If you have temporary fixation screws, these will be removed in about two weeks (these fixtures are installed beneath the hairline to hold the elevated brow in place).

You will probably experience swelling and bruising, which can also affect other parts of your face, including your cheeks and eyes. The swelling should be gone in about a week. For at least two days following surgery, you should keep your head elevated to help alleviate the swelling, and you can gently apply ice packs to the affected region.

For those who undergo surgery via the classic method, you will most likely experience more pain during your recovery. Your doctor will give you a prescription for a painkiller. You may also experience more itching, which can last for a few months.

Those patients who undergo surgery via endoscopic method will also receive a prescription painkiller. Itching can also be a side effect for those who have undergone the endoscopic method, though it is much more mild than with the classic method.

In either case, you may also experience numbness or tingling. This will subside over time. Those who underwent the classic procedure may experience more numbing.

Most patients can return to work or school within 10 days, some sooner, depending on which procedure you underwent and your own personal rate of recovery.

You should be sure to avoid heavy lifting, vigorous exercise or other activity for the first few weeks after surgery.

Though the side effects are minimal, possible complications can include infection, scars, complications with eyebrow movement or the loss of sensation around the incision site. It's important to remember that these occur rarely.

When should I call my doctor after a brow lift?

You experience any of the following:

  • fever that climbs over 100 degrees Fahrenheit

  • excessive swelling or bleeding.

WebMD Medical Reference

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Reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD, on September 19, 2009